January 24, 2018, 9:24 am
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Real stumbles on way to quarters

BARCELONA. — Troubled Spanish champion Real Madrid stumbled to a 2-2 draw with third tier Numancia on Wednesday but qualified for the King’s Cup quarterfinals 5-2 on aggregate.

With a comfortable first-leg advantage, Zinedine Zidane rested much of his first team, making 10 changes from the line-up that struggled to a disappointing draw at Celta Vigo on Sunday to fall 16 points behind league leaders Barcelona.

Madrid opened the scoring in the 11th minute, Vazquez heading home Dani Carvajal’s deep cross when left unmarked at the back post.

Numancia hit back in the 45th minute, however, with substitute Guillermo, just on for the injured Higinio Marin, applying the finishing touch to a stunning breakaway goal.

Dani Nieto charged into space and fed Marc Mateu on the left, who delivered the perfect low cross for Guillermo to finish and delight the small band of travelling fans at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Vazquez, who won two penalties for Madrid in the first leg, slammed home his second from close range in the 59th minute, but Guillermo pegged back Madrid again with a brilliant header to cap a superb display and a fine result for his team.

Numancia’s Dani Calvo was sent off in the dying minutes for a cynical foul to stop Isco that earned him a second yellow card.

Earlier, Leganes reached the quarterfinals for the first time in its history after losing 2-1 at Villarreal but progressing on away goals after its 1-0 first-leg win at Butarque.

Leganes winger Nabil El Zhar scored a delicious chip to break the deadlock, with Dani Raba’s well-taken strike and Denis Cheryshev’s late winner completing a Villarreal comeback that was not enough to send the hosts through.

Last season’s King’s Cup runner-up Alaves beat third division Fomentera 2-0 to wrap up a 5-1 aggregate win thanks to second-half goals from Ermedin Demirovic and Alfonso Pedraza.

On Thursday, Levante hosts Espanyol, Cadiz travels to Sevilla and holder Barcelona welcomes Celta Vigo to the Nou Camp. – Reuters
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